Date of Award

7-14-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)

Department

Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

Mary Ann Matras, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Jennifer Rotigel, D.Ed.

Third Advisor

Patricia Smeaton, Ed.D.

Abstract

In the 1990's there was a movement by high schools to change from a traditional scheduling format to a block scheduling format (Canady & Rettig, 1995) in an effort to improve student achievement. Reports such as A Nation at Risk and Prisoners of Time indicated time was an important factor (NCEE, 1983; NCTL, 1994). While the concept of school schedules that reduce the load of teachers and students, allow for depth of instruction, and enable teachers to utilize varying instructional strategies contained great vision, it may potentially hinder achievement of students in some subject areas. In areas such as mathematics, retention can be impacted by the spacing effect theory, which can be critical to learning (Rohrer & Taylor, 2006). This case study examined student achievement in a school district in northeastern Pennsylvania which used the 4/4 block schedule in two high schools and changed to a hybrid schedule allowing students to take mathematics all year on a traditional schedule, based on course difficulty level, in an effort to raise student achievement. Student achievement data from the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) and the Northwest Evaluation Association's (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments were analyzed. Additionally, three administrators were interviewed and two focus groups were conducted with 15 mathematics instructors to determine whether significant changes in student achievement followed the change in scheduling format. The findings of this study indicated that statistically significant growth occurred in student achievement in mathematics following the change to a schedule having math classes all year. Each high school showed significant growth for applied-level students and one high school showed significant growth with college preparatory students as well. The findings also indicated that instructional strategies and assessment practices can have an impact on the ability of students to retain content and skills by spacing the presentation/practice over time. Just like instruction and supervision, scheduling should not be a one-size-fits-all approach. Schools must consider the implementation of a school schedule that promotes effective instruction and assessment connected to corresponding subject areas, facilitates presentation/practice which are spaced appropriately, and differentiated to meet the needs of students.

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